Declarations of independence

September 7th, 2011
By Michael Washburn
August 28, 2011

Susan Sontag famously wrote that intelligence was “really just a kind of taste: taste in ideas.’’ Over the past decade, Christopher Hitchens has proven Sontag’s pithy bit of pretension true, though not in ways she would have foreseen. Pundits typically achieve notoriety precisely because they promote the prevailing prejudices of either the right or the left. Hitchens, one time Fleet Street rabble-rouser and rhetorical pugilist of the left, turned against his former fellow travelers. Hitchens vocally supported the Iraq invasion and has renounced many of his former lefty precepts in favor of a set of hawkish foreign policy positions. On the left he’s considered a neo-imperialist apologist for the Bush administration. The right doesn’t want him either. His undeniable intelligence seems tasteless to many; his devaluation shows that, for some, intelligence is really just taste in ideology. Sadly, this debate over his perceived political apostasy may be his legacy.

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